Hotels as Cultural Crystal Ball: Lessons from Ace Portland
Ed Cotton at Influx Insights has gathered six lessons he’s learned from Ace Hotel’s Portland, Oregon location. The stylish but spartan hotel has an operating aesthetic that he feels can be translated and used in other areas. Cotton believes that the world of hotels is a metaphor and a sort of divining rod for the world at large. Watching hotel trends go from highly designed spaces, to overstated opulence – and now comfortable minimalism, he sees that the Ace is showing a glimpse of a coming cultural ideal.
The six lessons:
1.Local Matters– people want to break free of chain consistency; where passion and care seem to play second fiddle to the supposed comfort and security of corporate sameness. Ace is a mini-chain – there’s a hotel in Seattle and soon to be outposts in NYC and Palm Springs, but supporting local businesses gives it a local feel. It also doesn’t feel like an unwelcome invader, it seems to understand the world that surrounds it.
2. Enough of the Cookie Cutter– people want to see the rough edges.
3. Community Matters– the coffee house and restaurant aren’t owned by the hotel, but they feel part of the family.
4. Making Do- We don’t need or want the flash. We want resourcefulness, getting more use out of old things, finding new uses out of old things. Doing things on a limited budget makes sense and leads to more interesting solutions.
5. Invitational- We need more participants, collaborators and we need more sharing and talking. The Ace Hotel has a gallery space that it rents out for this kind of stuff all the time. Clyde Common also boasts communal tables- more of that sharing in action.
6. Being Thoughtful- Thinking ahead and doing something different that makes a statement of your intent. Everything communicates as we know and we often make the mistake of thinking that this means everything needs to be the same, instead of using “everything” to tell different and layered stories. Ace’s coin-operated laundry, is not only really convenient, it also says a lot about the experience and the attitude